What Causes Flat Feet?

As you age or sustain injuries, the tendons in one or both feet may become damaged. As mentioned earlier the condition is normal in babies and toddlers because it takes time for the tendons to tighten and form an arch. If this tightening doesn’t occur fully, it can result in flat feet. The condition is also associated with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Who Is at Risk?

If flat feet run in your family you are more likely to develop the condition. However, if you’re highly athletic and physically active you may also develop them due to injury. The same can be said for older persons who are prone to physical injury and falls. People with muscular diseases like the above mentioned cerebral palsy are also at increased risk. Other risk factors include obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus.


Flat feet may not be serious if there is no pain, however if your feet tire easily or ache after extensive exercise and walking long distances, flat feet may be the cause. You may also feel pain in your lower legs and ankles or your feet may feel stiff or numb, have calluses and possibly lean toward each other.

Test Yourself for Flat Feet

You can easily test yourself to see if you might have fallen arches or flat feet. Follow these three steps:

  1. Get your feet wet.
  2. Stand on a flat surface where your footprint will show, such as on a concrete walkway.
  3. Step away and look at the prints. If you see complete imprints of the bottom of your feet on the surface, then you’re likely to have flat feet.


There are a number of methods to alleviate the pain or discomfort of flat feet temporarily, eg. using foot supports, medication and lifestyle changes, however foot surgery is the only reliable permanent solution if your pain is severe. Your orthopedic surgeon may create an arch in your feet, repair tendons, or fuse your bones or joints. If your Achilles tendon is too short, the surgeon can lengthen it to decrease your pain.